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The Australian Malaise – Toxic Times in the Land of Oz

By Loz Lawrey

I know I’m not alone.

I know others share my horror and disgust at the toxic temper of the global zeitgeist after thirty years of neoliberal rule.

Horror and disgust? I know, that makes me a “socialist” or worse, a “communist”. These are the contemptuous labels used by conservatives to dismiss anyone who disagrees with their selfish cold-hearted individualism.

Anyone who finds fault with a government which ignores expert advice and spends its time trying to squeeze the square-peg reality of our multicultural nation into the hollow round-hole of conservative ideology MUST be a commie.

A poisonous virus of fear, insecurity, racism, bigotry and toxic nationalism has infected many nations around the world and Australia is following the herd … over the cliff, some might say.

What’s not to love about the Turnbull government as it rushes headlong to dismantle all aspects of our system of government which smack of inclusive social democracy? Well… everything, actually.

Every day, outrage upon outrage piles up as this hard-right conservative “Christian” dominated regime takes a sledgehammer to all the checks and balances that maintain fairness, equity and a clear vision of the Common Good in our society.

Seriously, I’ve had enough. Call me a leftie, a “bleeding heart”… whatever. I call myself a humanist. Or an Empath. Or just… someone who cares.

I care, not just for myself, but for all of us. And by “us” I don’t mean a white anglo-saxon judeo-bloody-Christian elite, I mean ALL HUMANS on the planet.

Australia, land of many races, the country best-positioned to exemplify inclusion, tolerance and acceptance on the world stage, continues to rush headlong down the ideological road to nowhere (for most of us) that is neoliberalism.

That means embracing a judgmental, arrogant, elitist, law-of-the-jungle, survival-of-the-fittest, winner-takes-all mindset and glorifying an ugly vision of a truly unhappy and divided society which throws the needy and disadvantaged off a cliff.

Former PM (some say war criminal) John Howard did much to set Australia on this miserable course.

Howard has always wanted to rewrite our history, excluding the unpleasant parts such as the genocide of native Australians, and he’s always been obsessed with the way history will portray him.

Well, suffer in your jocks, Johnny-Boy, because your legacy ain’t a pretty picture.

Howard decided to impose his white-bread definition of marriage upon us and (with no public consultation whatsoever) changed the marriage act to suit homophobic religious conservatives.

Yet it was the 2001 Tampa affair which fanned the flames of division in a nation which had spent years learning to welcome new arrivals over several generations. It was the speech Howard made at the time which truly poisoned the well of our public consciousness.

Who was the “we” Howard referred to when he said “WE will decide who comes to this country and the manner in which they come”? It’s hard to escape the conclusion that this cricket and queen-loving PM was referring to a colonialist ruling class of white men rather than the multicoloured multicultural “we” that includes us all.

Here’s the problem: When neoliberals say “we”, they mean “some of us”, not “all of us”. The neoliberal “we” excludes whole social sectors: First Australians, the unemployed, the sick and disabled, students, workers who belong to unions, pensioners, the elderly, asylum seekers… and more.

In a system that best serves the interests of the rich beneficiaries of uncaring capitalism, some groups of citizens are cut out of the herd and left by the wayside to fend for themselves.

Perhaps Howard’s real legacy was the normalising of blatant lying to the Australian people. Remember the “weapons of mass destruction”?

When the toxic Abbott regime slithered into power, lying was a given, something Australians had come to expect from their political class, particularly from the right. And Abbott, himself a former Howard minister, is naturally mendacious.

Turnbull’s approach is the same: tell the people what they want to hear, but promises (again, thanks to Howard) are all “non-core” these days.

The media massage and amplify the government’s toxic messages of condemnation: of their political opponents Labor and the Greens; of activist groups and organisations which hold them to account; of welfare recipients and those unemployed citizens competing for non-existent jobs.

In fact, if you don’t toe the line and swallow the bullshit served up daily as policy by the Turnbull ministry, condemnation is the best you’ll get.

There’s no doubt the Coalition is working hard to keep us all fearful, divided and depressed. We’re more compliant that way.

And they’re succeeding. Australia is in a state of malaise, and it’s getting worse.

I just had to vent and ask my fellow Australians: Are we there yet?

Are we miserable enough to throw these bastards out and demand a return to government in the public interest?

Or do we have to become REALLY miserable and outraged?

I know I am.


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  1. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Loz Lawrey,

    I’m with you. I can’t wait to see the death of neoliberalism and a re-Dawn of democratic socialism where there is renewed hope and energy to bring about positive, sustainable, innovative progress full of reforms and equity.

    Call me an Empath any day!

  2. Pilot

    Time for protests and street blocking. These lying fascist liberals are as far from christianity as devil worshippers.

    Australia needs its population to protest against this toxic mob of fascists and move back to the centre.

    Turnbull is nothing more than the captain of a powerless ship at sea relying on the currents or his RRWNJs to move his ship. No leadership, no direction, no truth, no idea.

    Australia deserves better than this mob of absolute WANKERS!

  3. Peter F

    You nailed it when you mentioned Tampa: the real legacy of JWH.

  4. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Good idea, kerri.

  5. Andreas Bimba

    The suburban heartland still blames the unions, Labor, the Greens, the scientists, the unemployed and the poor for their precarious life of declining incomes and government services and ever increasing costs.

    Fed on a diet of neoliberal propaganda from the commercial mass media and the ABC and preferring to remain comfortably ignorant and remaining loyal to a Liberal Party that now only represents the top few percent, THEY ONLY HAVE THEMSELVES TO BLAME.

    Wilfully ignorant and selfish bastards!

  6. babyjewels10

    kerri, the lazy GG is a LNP plant. There are many of them, installed to ensure the future of neo-liberalism.

    Thanks Loz. I couldn’t agree more.

  7. alex

    I’m with you. I don’t understand neo liberalism – logically it just doesn’t make sense.

  8. Wayne Turner

    Andreas – I agree with you. Sadly these people claim to vote in their “own self interest” but are too ignorant and brainwashed to get this correct.They are wrong.

    Sadly the ignorant and gullible out number the critical thinking,informed and those that truly care about others.

    It’s said “you get the government you deserve” – Well it’s partly correct.I and most here certainly don’t.But,look at what is says about the pathetic masses of this country.Nothing good of course 🙁

  9. stephentardrew

    I have been there for decades. Sick of waiting for some sanity, rationality, justice, equity and moral fortitude in this country.

  10. sandrasearle

    Now is the time to get really angry, very very angry. I get depressed when I see just how devisive the LNP have been over many years of their rule.
    It would be good if there was a legal way to remove this govt. – there probably is. Look how they got rid of Gough Whitlam, wasn’t supply blocked? If it was used once to bring down a government ……..
    I for one want my country back where we can a truly democratic caring society – one that looks after ALL.

  11. billshaw2013Bill Shaw

    I feel for my children and coming generations that suffer with this neoliberalism. Worse I feel guilty being part of the generation that allowed this to happen. I’m 71 and hope to be around to see a significant reversal of these policies inflicted on us by the right. (Many life long friends and colleagues are part of this group. They know where I stand)

  12. Kim Southwood

    You have struck a chord in the dolorous minor key which is currently winding its way around the hearts of many Australians who share your downcast view.

    The bullies have taken over the playground. Yet there are still many Australians trying to come to grips with the nature of the malaise emasculating our society. Younger Australians especially have grown up with the ‘norm’ of aggressive neo-liberal tactics.

    I think organisations like GetUp go some way to rouse awareness in the Australian public, of contextualising symptoms of our illness in the public domain. They articulate the meaning of democracy by contrasting it with how we now interpret it: every 3 years we vote to see which major party gets the bullying rights or we look for a minor bully with promising attitude as an alternative. (I respectfully exclude The Greens from this analogy).

    GetUp’s campaigns appeal to our social conscience, our humanitarianism, our sense of sustainability in the environment and fairness in the economy. They are not overtly aligned with any political party and draw their strength from community-based campaigns. It is a hard fight to capture the public imagination.

    However, there is some comfort in knowing there is an organised community-based movement working to undermine the position of entrenched privilege which has been seized by the bullies.

  13. Liz Terra

    You took the words right out of my mouth Loz. To answer the “Are we there yet” question?…. Absolutely!.. Ready and waiting.

  14. mars08

    For me, this current plague of shameless, sleazy, self-serving, corrupt, arrogant clowns can be traced to ONE flagrant lie of the Howard years…. ONE lie which was eagerly embraced by many Australians and trivialised by the corporate media of the time.

    In October, 2001 the Australian government announced that asylum seekers on the SIEV-4 had thrown young children overboard in order to coerce the Australian Navy. Even after Navy officers told the government that this a was distortion of truth, government ministers insisted on perpetuating the lie.

    Once a large portion of the Australian public had been given “evidence” of despicable, immoral and devious asylum seekers… the nation was locked into the madness we see playing out today. Once the ruling class had a relentless villain to scare the voters, all other social and economic issues could be avoided by stirring up fear and hatred with the voters. The government had a reliable way of distracting the population and terrorising the public into accepting all manner of authoritarian legislation and dodgy ministerial activity. As long as the boats stayed away, the ruling class could continue their lies and corruption with impunity

    One lie…

  15. David

    You forgot to mention how Johnny H took our weapons for shooting wild pigs, feral cats and rabbits? A nation is judged by the way it treats its disadvantaged citizens, but our Australian Government can tell other nations how to conduct themselves for “inclusive Economic Growth” and “Humanitarian Leadership programs”. But we send our F/A 18 Hornets to fight a war in Syria to remove an elected head of state in a sovereign country! Sleazy control freaks and hypocrites!

  16. Wayne Turner

    Spot on mars08 – The LNP’s “weapon of mass distraction”.

  17. totaram


    Neo-liberalism makes perfect sense if you are worth 10s of millions. It will benefit you. Unfortunately, some “aspirationals”, who might even have made a million, don’t realise how they are being ripped off, and continue to believe that neo-liberalism is good for them. John Howard was very good at throwing them some crumbs with “middle class welfare”, and they fell for it. What they don’t realise is that the small benefits they gain do not make up for the loss of cohesion in our society, the loss of universal health care, the loss of disability insurance, the loss of universal free school education, the loss of cheap tertiary education, etc. all of which will come as neo-liberlism chips away in that direction.

    With Medibank privatised, watch how health insurance costs sky rocket way above the rate of inflation, as they are doing already. Eventually, Medicare will become “unaffordable”, because the medicare levy “cannot” be increased, and have to be dismantled and privatised. That is just one example. Tertiary education has been under siege for years and you can see where it is going. And so on…

  18. mars08

    “A society of sheep must, in time, beget a government of wolves.”
    -Bertrand de Jouvenal.

  19. Sir ScotchMistery

    I am so pleased that when I say things here like “I would love to see fat bald nonce Senator George Brandis wearing a javelin through his forehead”, nobody has a go.

    I met 2 LNP voters late at night recently on a country road, shooting kangaroos.

    I want them to let me have an Adler since I only had enough shells for the right hand tyres.

  20. helvityni

    mars08,well said…twice!

    Sir ScotchMistery, 🙂 🙂 🙂

  21. Sir ScotchMistery

    I often thought that Bertrand’s voice whilst considered somewhat jouvenal, was always a cut above those of the supposedly adult conservatives of the day.

  22. Florence nee Fedup

    Neoliberalism has been in vogue on global basis since Thatcher. They believe by getting rid unions, they get rid all opposition to what they want to do. To ensure this, they go further by weakening the public right to the courts, outlawing all protest of any type.

    They believe the unions to be their enemies. They are wrong.

    People for hundred’s of years have been uprisings when injustice and unfairness becomes unbearable.

    People just find other ways of getting together to do so. Such as Get up are filling the void for many, as unions play much smaller part in our lives. Unions in themselves have had to change. Strikes and withholding labour no longer having any effect or in fact possible. They are now seeking support of the community more direct, working with likes Get up.

    Things are a changing. Catch up on Warren Mundine’s outrage at this government early this morning on Sky. Sounded a little drunk.

    Neoliberalism makes no sense, you are right. It disallows any sense compassion, society and community non existent. Poor, unemployed and I suspect ill in their eyes not responsibility of government. They aren’t victims but responsible for their own plight. This is important to keep in mind. In fact they believe to help these people only weakens them, encourages their sloth. All they have to do is try harder. One can only understand neoliberalism if one sees this.

  23. Florence nee Fedup

    This is list gvt proud achievements in letter put out today


    1 Secured Australia’s 25th consecutive year of economic growth. Our growth is faster than every G7 economy
    2 Protected our borders and made our nation more secure with over 800 days having passed without a successful people smuggling venture
    3 Delivered a personal income tax cut to 500,000 middle income Australians
    4vFairer and more flexible superannuation into the future
    5 Delivered $11 billion of budget repair
    6 Making bank CEOs answerable to the public through regular appearances before Parliament
    7 Legislated to protect volunteer firefighters from union takeovers
    8 Reintroduced bills to restore the rule of law and stop union thuggery in the construction sector
    9 Secured the naval shipbuilding industry and jobs into the future
    10 Strengthened trade and defence ties with Singapore to create thousands of new jobs
    11 Strengthened the US alliance in defence, counter-terrorism and cyber security
    12 Reintroduced legislation to crack down on illegal firearms trafficking
    13 More protection for women and children from domestic violence
    14 Growing our industries with record commodity prices and a $2.5 billion water infrastructure roll-out to support farmers and the resource sector
    15 Fixed the problems in Vocational Education and Training and cracked down on dodgy providers
    16 Increased digital literacy and improved school resourcing
    17 Supported more indigenous Australians through skills, jobs and language
    18 Signed new City Deals to improve housing and expand public transport
    19 Accelerated the broadband build, with 28 per cent of premises able to get connected. The figure is even higher at 43 per cent in regional Australia
    20 Secured an agreement with the states on energy security and reforms for affordable, reliable power
    21 Protected Medicare, improved primary health care and made over 2,000 medicines cheaper
    22 Saving lives through a National Cancer Screening Register
    23 Simplifying private health care
    24 Improved mental health services
    25 Supported the South Australian steel sector and jobs by providing a $49.2 million loan to Arrium
    26 Addressing long-term welfare dependence
    27 Delivering better tax arrangements for working holiday makers, including backpackers
    28 Delivering better child care for one million Australians and lifting immunisation rates
    29 Committed to new resettlement programs for genuine refugees as a result of our strong border policies
    30 Boosted Australia’s place in the world with access to new world markets and stronger ties including with East Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom”


    Not sure many are much more than returning less money than they took out earlier for most. The list leaves me cold.

  24. Alan Baird

    So much “improvement” and so little progress. Oz is increasingly a carbon copy of US. The stock market is up and 90% can’t feel any of the effect. Not so much as a “trickle down” as “gush upwards” effect.

  25. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I couldn’t read the whole list because I was gagging. But the hypocrisy of No 21 stood out blatantly considering the LNP frauds and liars actually did threaten to cut back on Medicare before the 2 July election and had octagenarian people like my parents worried.

  26. @RosemaryJ36

    If Iceland can effect united effort to produce change then so could we.

  27. Jane Love

    Very well said Loz Lawry, thank you.

    A couple of points though:

    – This government is not ‘Christian’, it’s ‘Catholic’ – and that is very different thing. Yes. Yes it is.

    – I know all of us, except for Australia’s Indigenous peoples, come from somewhere else, somewhere in our history and there are a lot more who would like to come here.

    The talk-a-lot-but-actually-do-nothing-to-help people who say “Open the borders and let the people in” are idiots. That’s a fact. Our own people, as you have stated, are in a pretty terrible position already. You ask “Have we had enough”. No not yet because the non-seeing people who voted in this LNP government – which is now busy destroying so many lives – haven’t had their own lives destroyed yet. There is very much an ‘I’m okay’ philosophy in place in Australia. Those who are still employed are walking around with heads…well you know where their heads are. “Oh let the people in” they say – as their neighbours leave their homes to live in the streets because this LNP took away their only means to support themselves. There is NO point in allowing Australia to be flooded by refugees (as much as we are directly responsible for many of those from Syria) UNTIL the government does something about employment in Australia.

    ALL refugees should have a job waiting for them before they come in and they should be taxed at a slightly higher rate for a time. How can this be done when the LNP government took the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Australians (actually many, many more if you want to take 457 visas and the new backpacker tax and free trade agreements etc etc into the equation) and then stood back, in a group, and mocked those Australians and said ‘Go and get a job you losers, you bunch of whingers’ when there are no jobs. As Donald Trump says, it’s easy to stop jobs leaving the country, you just put a 35% tax on all their products produced outside the country.

    Australia – with the help of a competent, people-oriented, responsible, non-fascist government – could be a much bigger nation, a great nation. Huge projects in this huge empty continent need to be developed. The Northern Territory has enough water for the whole of Australia but it has to be harnessed. We could take many, many refugees – yes, wouldn’t that be wonderful – but the non-thinking, no-policy-offering, employed and ignorant, phoney, do-gooders’ should shut their mouths until this is fixed. Australia, because of immoral, fascist governments, is heading into a third-world economy like a dart.

    Of course, as any reasonable Australian would, I stand beside Pauline Hanson in her call for all Australians to be equal and to abide by Australian laws.

  28. Sir ScotchMistery

    @Florence Nee Fedup

    Mundine has had years watching those he would guide in their supposed “effort” to fix a problem which is as Australian as vegemite, in calling for yet more inquiries.

    He is right. It took a dickhead like that redneck fluck-knuckle “minister for aboriginal affairs” as he himself calls it, to see if they could fool another 8 years of voters.

    It didn’t. But I have thought for some time that Mundine picked up his cricket bat and ran with the wrong crowd when he tied his balloon to the self-servatives. He should have got a bunch of federal independents to back him.

  29. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Jane Love,

    what response would you give me, a so-called ‘bleeding heart’, who wants fairness for both vulnerable Aussies in insecure employment or in poverty on welfare AND vulnerable people in detention or fleeing persecution as asylum seekers?

    Compassion and action for one group should not negate the same for the other.

    I agree that we can substantially reduce economic migration; eliminate 457 visas; and review backpacker employment where all of these impact on diverse Aussies’ access to employment opportunities. However, the same must not be applied to desperate people seeking legitimate asylum.

    BTW, be careful what you wish for with Hanson. If she was fair dinkum WORKING for Aussie workers, she would not be siding with the LNP assassins who want to inflict cruel working conditions on workers by imposing the ABCC..

  30. king1394

    There are a lot of people who are enmeshed in debt, or who are paid so little they struggle to meet financial commitments. This leaves people unable to engage in political action or protest because they have no time free for this or they fear for their jobs if they are seen to have radical views. Many low paid workers are simply wage slaves with no income for anything beyond necessities so they also do not engage in any political lobbying or demonstrations or joining up with others in organisations – and certainly not in unions

  31. Jane Love

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith: Thanks for your message.
    With respect to your first question, read my original message.
    With respect to Pauline Hanson: Yes I am getting concerned too.

  32. John Brame

    Toxic times in more ways than one, with our passion for emitting CO2. We are slowly turning our wonderful oceans into toxic soups, fit only for plastic trash, algae blooms and (if were lucky) maybe some jellyfish.

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